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Foundation skills:


Strong foundational skills, namely literacy and numeracy skills, but also including digital and financial literacy, are extremely important for most jobs in the knowledge economy.

Foundation skills underpin the productivity of Australia’s workforce and are instrumental in ensuring workers have the ability to upskill.

Training for foundation skills is undertaken through the Foundation Skills Training Package which is developed by the Education Industry Reference Committee.

Recent feedback from industry and providers indicated that currently the Foundation Skills Training Package is failing to provide foundation skills to learners, and the Training Package is currently being reviewed in an attempt to address this.

27% of IRC Skills Forecasts identified this skill as a priority

Industry skills needs

Foundation skills ranked as the equal 7th highest-priority by industry, with 27% of individual IRC Skills Forecasts listing them as a priority for their workforce.

When considering the IRC’s ranking of generic skills, Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills also ranked 7th highest (out of 12).

While not highly ranked across all industries, foundation skills are a high priority for a handful of industries.

Industries which prioritised foundation skills include:

  • Recreational Vehicles 
  • Construction, Plumbing and Services
  • Textiles, clothing and footwear
  • Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure
  • Community Sector and Development
  • Laboratory Operations
  • Children's Education and Care
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker
  • Ambulance and Paramedics
  • First Aid
  • Property Services.


Case studies


According to the Skills Forecasts, the Automotive industry consists of 11 industry sectors (and five IRCs), which identify foundation skills as a priority for their workforce. Industry sectors include:
  • Automotive – Cross sector
  • Automotive – Manufacturing (bus, truck, trailer)
  • Automotive – Manufacturing (passenger)
  • Automotive – Mechanical and specialisation
  • Automotive – Electrical
  • Automotive – Mechanical Heavy Vehicle
  • Automotive – Vehicle body repair
  • Automotive – Sales, parts, admin and management
  • Automotive – Bicycle
  • Automotive – Marine
  • Automotive – Outdoor Power Equipment.

These quotes from the Automotive IRC Skills Forecast highlight why foundation skills are a priority in these industry sectors:

In the changing landscape of the automotive industry, new graduates and the pre-existing workforce require strong foundation skills such as language, literacy, numeracy, employability and digital fluency, to enable them to adapt to the changing industry environment.

Foundation skills, such as language, literacy, numeracy, employability and digital fluency were listed as emerging skills for nearly all sectors in the industry (excluding manufacturing passenger). These skills assist new participants in the industry to improve and existing participants to adapt to the changing industry environment. Digital literacy is of particular importance with increased automation of functionality and vehicle capability affecting numerous sectors within the industry.

Property Services

This case study covers Property services, which includes the following sectors:
  • Waste collection, treatment, and disposal services
  • Property operations and real estate services
  • Architectural, engineering and technical services
  • Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services
  • Public order and safety
  • Fire protection inspection and testing
  • Swimming pool and spa servicing
  • Facility management
  • Strata management
  • Access consulting.

The Building cleaning, pest control and gardening services and Public order and safety sectors have a demand for foundation skills.

Quotes sourced from the Property Services IRC Skills Forecast show why foundation skills have been prioritised:

Due to the high number of migrants and underqualified workers employed in this sector (public order and safety), LLN and customer service deficiencies are an area of concern for industry and stakeholders.

A major source of students and employees in the cleaning sector is migrants and international students. Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) and WHS are an important focus because of the differing language and cultural standards in this sub-sector.

Embedding LLN skills in the training package are a priority.

Updated: 29 May 2018
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